"Innovation Orchards" and the Engine, turning science into business



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Olivia Jeffers

March 12 · Issue #18 · View online

Welcome to Compassionate Technologies. Here you'll get a dose of real science and business in your inbox every Sunday morning. Why? Because cutting-edge research shouldn't be locked in an ivory tower. This newsletter covers the relationships between machine learning, robotics, genetic engineering, and climate science. It's all connected, and it's my passion to simplify and make clear those connections for all of you. Love, Olivia.

Announcing The Engine, Katie Rae of TechStars and Anantha Chandrakasan of MIT formally introduce a $150M fund and accelerator in the heart of Cambridge, looking to turn science into business.

Last Tuesday Katie Rae and Anantha Chandrakasan formally introduced The Engine to a packed and overflowing group of entrepreneurs and investors at the MIT Media Lab.
The Engine is exactly President Reif’s vision of an “innovation orchard”, a solution to the innovation gap between hard sciences and venture funding. In October 2016, MIT invested $25M as a Limited Partner into The Engine Accelerator Fund, which has raised a total of $150M to date.
The Valley of Death in Science Funding
It takes years of research and a tremendous amount of brain power and person-hours to create a scientific innovation. Often, taking that innovation out of the lab and into the business is difficult because of a lack of available funding or resources to turn the science into a workable prototype.
The Valley of Death for scientist-entrepreneurs. (ScienceVest, Javier Noris, Jan 2016)
The Valley of Death for scientist-entrepreneurs. (ScienceVest, Javier Noris, Jan 2016)
Supporting #HardTech or #DeepTech
“Hard tech gets caught in this gap,” says Rae, CEO of The Engine. “Can we build a platform that makes it easier and cheaper for an entrepreneur to build a hard tech problem?”
What’s the difference between a hard tech company and a soft tech company? Hard tech lies on years of real science, you can’t hack it together in one night in your dorm room.
Set to open its doors in late April to May, The Engine is located in Central Square at 501 Massachusetts Avenue. It has already opened its application process and is looking to accept 50-60 early stage hard tech startups over the next 12 months.
Regarding the founder community at The Engine, “there’s probably nothing I’ll protect more than making sure that the founders can connect, can be there for each other, helping and pushing each other, because when that’s there, it’s magical,” says Rae, former Managing Director of TechStars Boston.
Supporting the Founder Community
What types of founders are they looking for?
“We are investing into our ecosystem and into entrepreneurs. I want hard tech problems and great entrepreneurs. You cannot force people into ideas, they have to actually want to bring them to life as a team and create a company, and I want to support people that want that. Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, some people should remain scientists and that’s okay - we want to be the most incredible support system you can find and have the dollars to do that.”
Does that sound like you? The doors to The Engine are open, apply here.
Big Questions for Technologists
Is all science good? What questions do we ask ourselves as new science gets turned into new technologies. Should we have impact KPIs or consider long term ramifications? And who gets to make those decisions - VCs and investors?
Useful Links...
A better way to deliver innovation to the world
MIT Raising $150M Venture Fund to Rev “The Engine,” a New Incubator
Thanks from Olivia!
Try this out... Engine, Ignite :)
Try this out... Engine, Ignite :)
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